Are Americans Getting Enough Healthy Fat?

Fish oil for children

If you have spent anytime researching the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, you know that the word “fat” isn’t always a sign of something unhealthy: omega 3s, for example, are vital to the proper function of the body but cannot be made organically, meaning people must consume them as part of a healthy body instead. This essential fat, which is commonly found in foods like fish and walnuts, has been linked to everything from improved mental skills, such as better memory and decreased depression, to cardiovascular health. However, according to recent research, people may still not be getting enough omega-3.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers from the University of Minnesota repeatedly surveyed 12,526 Minneapolis residents about their eating habits. The team found that from 1980 to 2009, trans fat consumption decreased by 32% in men and 35.9% in women. Trans fat, of course, refers to the unhealthy type of fat which can cause heart problems and high cholesterol, making such a reduction significant. However, the research team said that the levels of trans fat the study participants were consuming is still higher than what the USDA recommends for a healthy diet. Additionally, the team’s research reported no change in the residents’ consumption of omega-3s over the study’s 30 period, suggesting that many people are likely missing out on omega 3 fatty acids benefits.

The data uncovered in this study could have a significant effect on future dietary recommendations, strategies for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, and public health strategies. In the mean time, however, the research team is recommending that people decrease their trans fat consumption by eating leaner meats and paying attention to dietary labels. Likewise, they have advised Americans to take advantage of omega 3 fatty acids benefits by eating more fatty fish, such as salmon, and other omega-rich products. For those who worry that they may not be able to meet the recommended quotas of this substance, however, omega-3 supplements like fish oil pills can be substituted.

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